Matisse Thybulle, a 6-foot-5 freshman from Eastside Catholic, is one of seven true freshmen on the Washington Huskies’ men’s basketball roster this season. Here’s what he said during our conversation Thursday at UW media day.
(So Coach Romar said you ran a 4:55 mile?) “Yeah, that wasn’t easy.”
(You run the mile much?) “All the guys were giving me crap, like, ‘dude, you’re going to kill the mile.’ Last time I ran the mile, I ran it in 6:30 and I thought that was pretty good. But then I got out there, maybe the adrenaline, just wanting to prove something to Coach. But yeah, I ran a sub-5-minute mile. I still can’t believe it. It was nuts.”
(Seems like athleticism is the theme of this team) “Oh my goodness. It’s like, when we play open gyms, I just wish … if people saw the kind of dunks that are happening, what fastbreaks look like for us, they’d be in awe, because literally everyone is just so athletic. Like, it’s really fun. It’s fun to play in that kind of atmosphere, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to watch. It’s awesome.”
(Do you like being a part of such a big group of freshmen coming in?) “I love it. It’s a challenge, almost. With being a basketball player, being competitive is just in your nature, so I’m embracing this challenge and we all are, and we’re just going to try and take it and run with it.
(Have you always been a Husky fan?) “When it came down to it, it was like, within myself trying to figure out this decision, I grew up my whole life a Husky. Well, not my whole life, but since I lived in Seattle it’s just been Husky basketball. Sitting in the stands, watching those guys and always dreaming of being one of them, and now having my own jersey with my last name and my number on it, it’s unreal.”
(Do you remember the first games you watched?) “I remember watching Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross, those guys. I remember coming to camp, actually, the same camp that I’m now, like, a coach at, and playing and watching Terrence Ross dunking on the side hoops and stuff. And now it’s like I’m one of those guys, so it’s pretty cool.”
(Was there any concern about the postseason drought here?) “No, because (Lorenzo) Romar is the same guy that he’s been ever since I’ve known Husky basketball. It’s proven that he can get there at times with the right guys. He has the right formula to get there. For me, I feel like if I can get with the right coach, being Coach Romar, and then just grab onto whatever scheme he’s doing and just play my hardest, wherever we go, I’ll be happy.”
(Do you think your length especially fits what you guys want to do defensively?) “It’s really exciting. It’s so exciting that he has to sometimes – I have to hold myself back because I just want to do too much, because I’m trying to do it all. We’re all about denying and just pressure and causing problems, and doing that, you see people crumble under the pressure. It sounds kind of mean, but I love it. It’s so exciting to just watch how hard you’re working on defense affect and make the offense struggle. And you can just take that and make it into your own offense.”
(Seems like most people view you as a defensive player. Do you embrace that?) “I’d definitely say I’m a defensive guy, defensive-minded, because it’s not too often you find someone with a 40-inch vertical and a 7-foot wingspan who’s 6-5, and I think on defense, it just causes problems because you think that you’ve got me beat, but really I’m just right there. They think they’ve got a shot, but then I get the block. It’s fun. I think it’s really exciting.”
(Is there already a confidence among this team?) “People don’t really know what to expect, but I think they’re going to be excited with what they see. And we’ve got all the right pieces and we’re all working hard enough that I think we can get a pretty good team together.”
(How’s school so far?) “It’s good. I have a class with 150 students. I went to a small private school, so I’m not used to this. It’s fun. It’s different because it’s one me to do my homework. I don’t have my parents like, ‘oh, you’ve got to do your homework, go to bed.’ I’ve just got to be more self-reliant with time management.”